Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CLASS ACT!

Ten years ago or so, I was watching the Imus in the Morning show. It was around St. Patrick's Day, and they featured a little-known, rough around the edges band from Boston, called Dropkick Murphys.

Over the years, the band became more popular. They played at Boston Red Sox and Bruins games, and their music was part of the film, The Departed."

I purchased their albums, and their songs became prominent on my iPod playlist. No music could inspire me more to take down my pace on a training run than the driving, punk sounds of this band.

The weekend before St. Paddy's Day this year, we went to see Dropkick Murphys live, at a concert in Philadelphia. They play small venues, and they seem to become part of the crowd when they perform. A Dropkick Murphys concert is very interactive. Hundreds of fans, mostly women, invade the stage for the finale, and actually sing with the band.

Their concert in Philadelphia was terrific, and we vowed we would see them again.

Days after the Boston Marathon bombings, Dropkick Murphys began selling "For Boston" T-Shirts. 100% of the proceeds went to the Boston One Fund, established to aid the victims and their families. To date, thanks to this one Irish punk band from Boston, over $150,000 has been donated to the fund.

When my wife and I purchased our For Boston T-Shirts, I noticed that the band was scheduled to play in the tiny college town of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, nestled in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, an hour and a half east of us. Stroudsburg is the finishing point for the Run for the Red Marathon, a local point to point race, held each May. The course is scenic, shady, and fast.

 I quickly booked the tickets for last night's concert.

The venue was the Sherman Theater, a 1920s style building, complete with the marquee in front. Many fans wore their For Boston T-Shirts. I decided to wear my yellow and blue 2013 Boston Marathon long-sleeve race shirt.

After two excellent warm up bands, The Mahones, and Old Man Markley, we anxiously awaited the headliners.

Lights went on, and the house erupted to the smashing sounds of "For Boston." In light of recent events, it was a spine-chilling opener. Then, they went right into the song, "The Boys Are Back," from their latest album, "Signed and Sealed in Blood."

From the time the band walks on stage, their performance could be compared to getting behind the wheel of a car, punching the accelerator to 100 miles per hour, and never letting up on the gas for an hour and a half.

My wife and I were 30 feet from the stage. the sounds were deafening, the moshers were wild, but peaceful, and as the band prepared to end the show, with the song, fittingly, "The End of the Night," I encouraged my wife to, "go up on stage." Moments after she disappeared into a sea of bodies, my next glimpse of her was being horizontally body surfed above the crowd. Sadly, security guards cut the crowd participation on the stage moments before she arrived.

She returned, disappointed, but proud to have checked 'concert body surfing' from her bucket list.

The crowd roared as the band played its final chords, and began to exit the stage, but not behind the curtains. Band members went to the front, in one last effort to interact with the crowd

By this time, I had positioned myself a few feet from the stage. Ken Casey, the charismatic leader of the band approached, slapping hands and waving. He spotted my shirt, asked, "Did you run the race?" I replied in the affirmative. He clasped my hand, then hugged me and said, "Way to go, man. Glad you're safe."

Amazed, I experienced something that, those who know me will attest, rarely happens. I became a bit tongue-tied. I told him his band was great, and that I tweet about them frequently.

Chalk that up to MY bucket list.

What a band.

A group of people who really DO care about their city, and the runners who make the pilgrimage there each Patriot's Day.

Dropkick Murphys has teamed up with Bruce Springsteen for their song, for an Extended Play album.
The EP, Rose Tattoo: For Boston Charity, is out now on iTunes for $1.29, with all proceeds going to bombing victims through the Dropkick Murphys' Claddagh Fund, a registered non-profit the band established to "serve the most vulnerable in our communities." 
"Innocent people being hurt by terrorists fits the core of that mission, and we're proud to be able to help," the band said in a statement on their website. The group has already raised more than $65,000 for victims of the bombings.

These guys are the real deal, and are, truly a class act.

Go runners!

Go Boston!

                                                        JOE MEETS KEN CASEY